Transformers UK: Issue #236

Story 1: The Interplanetary Wrestling Championship (Part 1)
Story 2: Deathbringer (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: September 23, 1989
Price: 40p
Writers: Bob Budiansky/Simon Furman
Artwork: Jim Fern/Staz (story) Lee Sullivan (cover)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Jake 'The Jackhammer' Jackson


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Roadhandler and Jake the Jack-hammer practice for their upcoming wrestling bout.

The Autobot Micromaster Roadhandler is making a guest appearance on his friend Cecila Santiago's TV chat show, sharing the sofa with the 'bird lady of Brooklyn' and professional wrestler, Jake 'The Jackhammer' Jackson. He is introduced to viewers as 'head of New York's newest vigilante group' (are there many others?) and a member of a mechanical race known as Transformers.

Cecilia asks Roadhandler what he says to critics who say all robots are a threat and gets a typically direct response: "They're talking out of their tailpipes!" He points out that the Race Car and Off-Road patrols recently foiled a Decepticon plan to steal the city's electricity, and have been rounding up crooks and thieves. When shown a picture of Optimus Prime, who is said to disapprove of their tactics, Roadhandler is equally robust. He says Prime is content to sit in his spaceship and do nothing, but the Micromasters have no respect for that and prefer to be seen to be making a difference. Jake listens to all this and taunts Roadhandler a bit before challenging him to prove what a hero he is by getting in the ring! The Autobot immediately accepts the challenge, and in fact he'll fight him now if he wants. After the show Jake is all friendly and says the audience "ate up" the performance! Roadhandler realises he has been tricked into helping Jake to promote himself but now the challenge has been accepted on live TV there's no way he can back out - honour demands that he fight!

The next day the Race Car Patrol goes to see Jake at the hall where he trains. They meet his slippery manager Casanova Brown and Roadhandler steps in the ring. Jake tries to show him a few moves and wants to lift the Autobot over his head. Trouble is Roadhandler ways nearly a ton, making him impossible to budge, but he deliberately makes himself light as a feather for Jake to lift him and dump him into the canvass! The other Micros are shocked but Casanova Brown loves it, and says the move should be the finale when Jake beats Roadhandler. Swindler, who is managing his team mate, grabs the would-be match fixer by the scruff of the neck and tells him "the only way any Autobot loses in battle is at the hands of a superior opponent!" Casanova back tracks saying as long as Roadhandler shows up they can have it any way they want! Meanwhile Cecilia worries what her Autobot friend has got into.

******

In the black and white UK produced story, Autobot reinforcements have arrived at an American town to battle a mysterious droid called Deathbringer who has been tearing the place up. The trouble is that Optimus Prime has realised that the creature is a product of the missing Creation Matrix and is reluctant to fight it! This creature alone may know the whereabouts of the Autobots' sacred life force (lost in space after it was blasted off in Prime's old body) and by destroying it they may lose their best clue.

Siren does his best to snap Prime out of it, and after taking a blast from Deathbringer, rallies the others to strike back anyway. Someone has to put this menace out of commission and if Prime won't then they will! But even their combined firepower barely makes a dent, so Nightbeat radios Waverider on board the Ark to search the computer and come back with some information. Optimus desperately wants to find the Matrix but he realises that Siren is right, and he must attack.

Nightbeat finds out that Deathbringer's purpose, according to legend, is to bring merciful release to the terminally ill, but clearly his prime directive has become warped. Ironically that purpose may be the key to defeating him. Prime tells the sentinel to look at himself and realise that he cannot contain the Matrix power, he is being eaten away by eat and will surely die eventually. Deathbringer considers this then decides to terminate himself in a spectacular explosion. Prime and Nightbeat concur that they have won a hollow victory seeing as an innocent being (??) has died and worse still the Matrix, wherever it is, must have taken on a sinister new purpose!

******

Comments:

Blooper alert: Jake has been given purple legs on the first page and doesn't seem to be wearing trousers! Later Cecilia gets Roadhandler's name wrong calling him 'Roadmaster'.

The wrestling story is considered by a lot of fans to be Budiansky's worst, but I enjoyed it. On the face of it this is a silly idea for a Transformers tale but it is about as well executed as you could expect. The WWF was very popular at the time on both sides of the Atlantic so that maybe why Bob chose to do this. His work often includes elements of American pop-culture, such as rock music in Rock and Roll Out and the movies in Monstercon from Mars, this is another such parody. Bob does a send-up of the talk show with Cecilia's oddball guests and Roadhandler is just another curiosity to viewers. New Yorkers are used to their capital city being a melting pot for newcomers and the Micromasters are portrayed on TV as just the latest act in town. It is a strangely understated reaction seeing as these are alien robots we are talking about! Still it is good PR for the Autobots for a change, and at least Roadhandler is succeeding in getting the message across where Prime has always failed. In this respect his 'get your hands dirty' approach is better.

Looking at the Deathbringer story my first impression is how wide the streets are. The Autobots almost look like they are fighting out in the open apart from a scattering of buildings. Prime seems to be surrounded by a completely new set of warriors these days, namely the new Headmasters, Pretenders and Powermasters. Even the original Headmasters no longer feature much and spotting an original character is bordering on the impossible. The way Deathbringer is defeated seems a tad predictable, and I disagree with the intro page that bills this as the clash of the year, though it is a significant story in that it lays the foundations for the up-coming Matrix Quest. One more blunder I spotted (in addition to those mentioned in the box above) is the Marvel checklist on page 15. It says Transformers 236 features an all out war between Carnivac and the Mayhems, when this story is in fact in the following week's issue.

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